The life sciences industry continues to move at an astonishing pace. Covering biotechnology, healthcare, pharmaceuticals,
informatics, tools, instrumentation, and device companies, the sector draws from a vast, multidisciplinary array of technologies
including optical, software, engineering, electronics, and nanotechnology.
Today, we are witnessing the rise of a relatively new breed of life science players—dubbed "convergence" companies—who combine
this extraordinary diversity of skill sets with the commercial savvy required to turn science into real-world solutions. Such
application of robust, proven technologies to find new solutions for new markets is creating a revolution across the world
and is something at which Scotland excels.
David Gow of Touch Bionics, part of a new generation of commercially savvy convergence companies
Longer life expectancies in the developed world and a growing impetus to tackle threats to global health are driving a phenomenal
acceleration in innovation and development among the life sciences community. It has been predicted that, within the year,
biotechnology and healthcare products will account for 18% of GDP in the US.
This huge opportunity is already being seized by multinational companies such as 3Com (
http://www.3com.com/) and Cisco Systems (
http://www.cisco.com/), which provide communication solutions for telemedicine; Agilent (
http://www.agilent.com/), which develops LED tools for surgical visualization; IBM (
http://www.ibm.com/), which markets software tools for computational drug discovery; and GE Healthcare (
http://www.gehealthcare.com/), which provides next-generation cardiovascular imaging. Such organizations are leading the way by developing pioneering
applications of new technologies for the healthcare and life sciences markets.
For Scotland's part, innovation in the fields of opto- and micro-electronics, engineering, and software is now being exploited
by a commercially savvy new generation of convergence businesses driving products into these key global markets. Companies
such as Biopta (
http://www.biopta.com/), Arrayjet (
http://www.arrayjet.co.uk/), Dimensional Imaging (
http://www.di3d.com/), and Touch Bionics (
http://www.touchbionics.com/) are all punching above their weight with a range of product solutions. Livingstone-based Craneware (
http://www.craneware.com/) is making a splash in the US market, selling financial management software solutions tailored to the specific needs of healthcare
ITI Techmedia (
http://www.ititechmedia.com/) has also recently announced a new research and development program in the emerging area known as "theranostics." This exciting
new field aims to combine diagnostic data with therapeutic solutions to customize treatments for individual patients. The
program showcases the strength and depth of expertise found in Scotland's life sciences community, drawing on a multidisciplinary
collaboration between Lab901 (
http://www.lab901.com/), Axis-Shield (
http://www.axis-shield.com/), and the Centre for Genomic Technology and Informatics at Edinburgh University (
Convergence companies, by the very nature of their business, are driven by collaboration and partnerships. Whether technical
or commercial, the alliance of knowledge and expertise from different sectors and markets provides a compelling proposition.